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tv   Discussion on Beach Books  CSPAN  March 24, 2016 8:52pm-10:20pm EDT

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were evicted twice they would be kicked out of the class. those techniques were working: eventually i was told you cannot do this anymore and a year later the kids were saying you cannot do that. i think we should go back to the old n days and forget the kids have issues and problems. and now talking about the number of black and hispanic males that are suspended from school and their rates have the match the rates of white students is crazy. we need to forget the non-sense and go back to the discipline of the old days. >> thank you, everybody. i think everybody should get a
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copy. >> everybody, i have about 300 people to thank and i am going to thank them tonight. however, between me and thanking those 300 people, there is an open bar and lots of sliders waiting for us at joe's bar which is an amsisterdam and 83rd street. let's keep the party going there. i will sign books there that you buy here. i will sign books here obviously. but thank you, everybody for all of the support along the way. you have been incredibly helpful. [applause] >> our booktv lineup continues in a few moments. tomorrow night more authors and their books.
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starting with steve osborn on the job. and mary sander builder examines jam madison's notes on the constitutional convention with "madison's hand" and a panel discussion about politics and democracy later in the night. and one of the panelist will talk about her book in greater detail. >> booktv has 48 hours of non-fiction authors. here are some programs to watch for. this weekend joining us for the 22nd annual festival of the book in charlottesville. author bruce hillman will talk about his book the man who stocked einstein. and then saturday at 7:00,
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patricia bell scott on the fire brand and the first lady portrait of a friendship. the book explores the relationship between poly murray, co-founder of the national organization for women, and first lady eleanor roosevelt. and we talk to nel irvin tate at the roosevelt house. more on send from the festival of the book. george carlin's daughter talks about her life growing up. and after words with nancy cohen. author of break through; the making of america's first president. she is interviewed by the chair and co-founder of cornel law
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school's women and justice center. >> for a woman to be at the head of the most powerful countries in the world when one of our keypkey allies doesn't allow women to drive and a key problem is about taking rights away from girls this is pretty interesting. >> watching the non-fiction authors on booktv is the best television for serious readers. >> on c-span they can have a long conversation and dive in the subject. >> booktv weekends bring you
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author after author and spotlight the work of fascinating people. >> i love booktv and i am a c-span fan. >> welcome to the release of the national association of scholars new report. i am peter wood, president of the national association of scholars. in 2009, a young man heading for a sea side vacation in mexico picked up a heavy book for beach reading. an 800 page tome on the life of an 18th-century immigrant. 50 pages or so in the book the story took possession of the 29-year-old who had emerged from
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the reading of 2004 alexander hamilton is now the hottest ticket on broadway. it is noted for many things including the representation of the exact facts. beach books are not easy reading and they can kick up a lot of sand. one of the top five most assigned college readings for college freshman last year was also a book about the obstacles overcome by on immigrant. it is the shorter "enrique's journey" which offers the account of a 16-year-old who is a drug dealer and thief making his way across mexico. her book contrast the turn of several points. one is that the book is written
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at a level appropriate for fifth graders as gauged by the independent rating system. well, welcome to the launch of the national association of scholars new edition of beach books. it is our fifth. this edition covers the books assigned by college and uni universities to the incoming classes in 2014 and 2015. ...
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>> >> on the reading program he has astonishingly good work in these past few months and later we will have questions send conversations from turkey to speaker former director of research and analysis and of course, senior editor. to host a launch of this report of a true stonewall of this society to threaten
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to drown the culture. for the coming generation is of urgent concern with the national association end of scholars. but he can say that much better than i. [applause] >> thanks for coming here. it is said to have been used to speak about higher education with the english teacher with the reading choices that were made by the colleges every year so i will lay out the background why colleges even have these programs that all. needed to give a little bit of sympathy when they are
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doing when they assign these books that can run all year long they collect the books with the organized programs it to those courses that are oriented and very important to have the author intent is the book for them to read over the summer they want to the extended experience and spend some time with the book. why? as a graduate from high school. to this institution to pile on this extra reading and we will see over the summer that is one of the issues.
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so briefly a choose three major problems with the incoming students. but from those other institutions as well but this is something that does not exist otherwise there is no common reading now. in the school curriculum so i ask students and a class of i refer to a book some of maybe two or three if they
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have read "the great gatsby" and though most popular ones are "to kill a mockingbird" still live was only about 20% from a few years ago. this is a unique actual condition in american life for is in and out of the schools it was everywhere it was in political discourse. to be around those biblical verses. he did back when you heard
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that read the that was the book so i actually have my american literature students read these that was important that the time of the founding in the service on the mound and president obama used the phrase time to put away childish things. does anybody know where that came from? but to grow more secular to
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refer to a few decades fairly common core curriculum that most students did read they did read the scarlet letter with a little bit of emerson and that's the end hemingway. id we know what happens there was multi-cultural as some had come along in the problem was to have a much richer set the traditions and this would build a greater knowledge and this
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would go along with other traditions and that is what happened. instead of having -- having a bigger tradition it was all over the place teachers are allowed to the school districts are allowed to select their own works and common core doesn't have a required reading list. we don't want to tell people what to read we don't want to get to that because they do start excluding things. so this leaves us with those who have not read the book if they don't have some cultural things in common
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they cannot build a culture but we opted to talk about community that is one of the ways is if they have read the same thing to have that same background. but the lack of any problem that they try to address. they don't read very much on their own. you might want to talk about harry potter that is the one thing you can mention in class. [laughter] or the movies. we are far beyond the publication but they don't read very much on their own
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this is from the 2014 survey a very large project that goes back to the mid-60s students coming into college the first year students not two-year college or vocational the rate of reading for pleasure how many hours do you log? this is a the largest cohort nine. nearly one-third have never read for pleasure. less than one hour zero minutes or 22 percent that is three-quarters of students reading for
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negligible activity. so they just to read many books on their own at all. see you are entering a world where you have to read books college will ramp up the reading requirement every day to go through a few pages at a time. if you drop out the teacher does not care there is no babysitting and no parachute. if you disappear. '08 3300 page book and to spend time but it is getting
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harder and harder to assign the books. you can read a few pages and then go back it doesn't work at the college level so trying to get them to be more bookish some people say because they don't have the time. but here is the problem when it comes in on homework time. but not how many hours they are assigned but how much they do. so these are four year college students between
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three and five hours a week between six and 10? all weekend long. if you get below that that is of the four year college it isn't homework that is taking away that reading from them but we have to get through their colleges are graded on retention. and with accreditation issues come into play so there is a lot of pressure on the campus.
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with one more factor to this you don't do that much homework. the knowledge level the students come into college with is abysmal. it is adjust their reading skills which are quite low last year the scores are the lowest in four years. college readiness is only 46 percent only 46% are college ready. most of them will get a
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grade of c or below if they have that writing test last year was the lowest scores ever and they have gone do every single year except when it was flat. so this is like the s.a.t. scores look at the nation's report card. in content area is of geography of u.s. history only 12 percent is proficient of civics and only 24 percent. >> if i am in class referring to the french revolution talking about thomas jefferson i have to explain what that is a you
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just cannot assume they have that historical civic knowledge. this is another issue that it can solve that has a lot of the accompanied knowledge as well. >> we're getting something about the french revolution. you want to select the book that is knowledge rich. that will fill out the gap so that is what it will ideally do.
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>> thinks her coming out. especially during mardi gras. and also thanks for hosting us. i want to give a little background. in to find out that it turned out en teetwo put together this list and what they focused on in to give
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the analysis and what they could pick as better books and at the time the programs that were on the arius looking for the one-stop place where the books are being assigned to be very useful for people it is now the of go to a source faculty members and their serving on committees we included every common reading we could find for
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community college that is the only comprehensive one like this. but to take on a life of its own. and the said the faculty members and administrators that they are concerned with communities but they get stock to get stuck with these patterns and to use large committees instead of having a few people that
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they don't have the test or a great vendor not held accountable. they always try to bring the author to speak witches' find that it limits them and with those colleges are doing. to encourage them to seek outside the box that these are the underrepresented items and when i say classics ltd. aged -- generous way but but we were talking about.
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but those of us stood the test of time of the enduring value. >> those that have given the push back that they don't want to sign books so i have been answered all of these i have 25 so far i just thought of another couple while sitting here. but my hope is to say that it is possible to choose more difficult and better challenging books for what you want to do one of the objections that i have heard
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because this isn't for a grade to find out what they want to read and then give it to them. so in principle give them books that they would enjoy a but will hold reason that they go to college to have been formed to but another push back i heard are called elitist. and i say it is a privilege and to get as many people as they can.
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into talk about access to higher education if we want to give them access it is said truly higher. , then we have a guest a say for different reasons coming from different tables who is the creator of the great books curriculum and then enjoy reading the great books the other is a professor of english and in the first of herself as a liberal feminist and sees value of letting the book
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school for a while and then letting them prove themselves over time. she also thinks that colleges are trying to accomplish too much. so i'm grateful to have this conversation and others in now i will pass the baton to my colleague who is a great talent and skill into let them share the findings.
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>> faq very much. everything else they have done with that but i have been talking an awful lot with everybody the last few months it is my a nonstop topic of conversation that had a common reading in 1967 was assigned those of ventures of ideas of the intellectual history combined with the effects of
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this is what was considered a reasonable common reading. [laughter] before those readings nowadays have a nonfiction account that we have too much trash. you have a graphic memoir of john lewis an admirable man at the fourth grade level. and as mentioned earlier the account of the illegal immigrant that is meant to
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influence current policy. we have a very fine novel i would not think of it as a book for college. but not really that the book you would expect. to we have problems in the report is something about the common reading program that we emphasize of debt that leads to the problems
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and not as good as they could be. for what we can hope for and hope for something better but i do think better can be done. 350 colleges per year public were private so a lot of colleges. for a reason because this is what they're aiming and because the community
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ultimately means i carry enough about this book to talk about it with my friends. . . overwhelmingly, even when they say they are sort of expecting and be willing to do, they don't really have the concept.
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they make them simple because they don't think they can get the students voluntarily. number two, once you decide it's voluntary, you have to make it to appeal to as many students as possible. not unimportant, that it appeals to as many professors as possible to because ideally you want that to be incorporated in the classroom as well. that's why you have these huge committees in charge of selecting. university of cincinnati is my favorite because they actually had 21 people doing this. they had 150 books chosen. cincinnati, 21 people, this is partly because the professors are be able to think what
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they're doing. you know a chemistry professor will know what a chemistry student will like. the business professor knows what the business students will like and so forth. you are trying to get massive buy-in across the discipline on part of the student and the professor. you have a book about the discipline. i'm not joking. so, by-and-by everybody and buy-in is what they are tasked to do. they are not tasked to get a book good book they are tasked to get one that is broadly appealing. if the task is your first priority to get a good book, then no you're not not going to
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get a good one. the institutional structure is not set up that way. you are trying to get recent books as well. that is even in some of the mission statements. they think students will care more if they can see the author or the subject of the book, they want want somebody who can come to a lecture in the fall. therefore they always go for a recent book because it's easier to get them to come to class. you're going to get people who are recent and not american. part of the point of going to college is learning about the world. the only people are learning from, if there only from the circuit of similar reading, it's
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very parochial. it's all memoir or biography and young person memoir. 70%% of it is a popular nonfiction reit written in extremely direct lack of style. there's no variation in the con form. it's all the same sort of thing. you'll have somebody who's just gone off to a nonprofit organization somewhere. somebody who has overcome adversity to be able to get to college. there are different scenarios but it's all the same sort of book. one should add to this the less
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varied, the the more recent they are. it is literally fewer books. the most popular books aren't the most recent books. these are the ones that get double digit selection. when you choose more recent books you choose fewer books. the older the book is, the more varied it's likely to be. when you're talking about intellectual diversity, there really is a real narrowing by focusing on a present book. add to all of this there are some political skus. it is off skewed. partly this is in the mission statement themselves. there are mission statements that say we want to talk about diversity and timeliness and civic engagement.
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many words which are not subject to bowl in and of themselves but are part of jargon which will skew you. add to this the people who are choosing these books do tend to be progressive. they don't seem to realize there are books that don't follow the particular political direction. because you are trying to get consent, you do a book on the environment precisely because talking about the environment isn't going to raise anybody's hackle. lois, denominator. i'm saying all of this not for the political point as such. the point is it restricts the universe that much more. in addition to all the other
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limitations you've got you can only get books that fit the various progressive limitation. it means that you've got a very, very narrow range. it wouldn't be so bad if these were part of the whole but the fact that there's the entirety of books being read, it is a problem. okay. i want to go from that into what can we hope for, what can be done better. >> there are some decent things out there. >> you have a classic selection at utah valley university. you have the college of concordia having an interesting book about modern china.
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you have a narrative by douglas which is a classic work. you have in john edwards editing of the diary. you have good books. we have them as honorable mentions. it's not impossible to choose them and they are working right now. the point is, they do exist and they do seem to be working. therefore, we do have a bunch of recommendations for what can be done better. don't, how do you check if community is being built?
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they set a goal which is literally impossible to tell and they succeeded at it. complying to academic goals you'll actually be able to tell what you're doing and if it's working. we like them to have smaller committees composed entirely of people who love books and have a great experience of it. we would like them to integrate a few readings into the classes and have them be testable. you can test for that knowledge. you can test for whether or not you've read the book. it's not impossible to do. we even have a recommendation that it might be possible to make the college admission selection more selective.
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maybe you should make your admission standards a little tighter if you can't get them to read even one book. aside from that we do have some confidence in students and some confidence in the colleges. we do actually think that simply going to the best existing standard practice of the common reading programs will be a marvelous improvement. it is working for the colleges that can do it. it can work for the other colleges. we can even go a bit above that to have a bigger focus on the classics. that would be even more marvelous and wonderful. it can make a practical improvement in students in higher education. i guess i do want to leave you with that. there is hope for the future. there is hope based upon what already exists. thank you. [applause].
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>> we will be working for about a minute while the technicians get us ready for the question session. thought maybe i'd say a word about the two top books this year, books chosen by the largest number of colleges. the book the other westmore is the best-selling book right now.
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it's a man about a white house fellow and has a bluster is career. he read someplace in the newspaper something about someone with his name who grow grew up in the same city who is convicted of murder and is in long-term prison. the other westmore was a drug dealer, crack dealer who had a hard life. the coincidence that is made here is pretty much the entire story, that they have the same name and one of them leaves a good life and the other leads a terrible life. they're both black men growing up in the same city. why did it happen that way? why did one go down the road in one direction and the other in the opposite direction. we don't know if this is fate or circumstance. there's a lot to think about that the other wes had a lot of
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bad brakes and shame. i think the reason this gets assigned as much is that it does get assigned is that it allows the white students to feel not entirely guilty about it. they should have empathy for the other westmore but they should also realize that he made some bad choices too. so it stands in the middle of our black live matter moment where we can think deep thoughts about injustice and the american life. it's a book about injustice but it's not entirely about injustice because the other westmore is a really bad dude. he participated in gang murder and went to jail. well, that's what happens. well, that's what happens some of the time. it's just mercy about a guy who ends up in jail without having done anything wrong. there's a murder committed 11 miles away in alabama and two killers who were also black cook up a story to make this guy the
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fall guy and the not very energetic police wise the story and he goes to jail and is on death row until the author of the book picks up the case and after years of effort exonerates him. this is written some 20 years after the guy is freed from jail he in the meantime died of dementia. the story would be a real page turner in its own right. it's a story well worth telling about how injustices can happen in our society. stevenson isn't going to leave it there. he takes the story as symptomatic of the entire nature
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of the justice system which grinds on the poor and minorities and provides no real justice except for the occasional people who care. it's partly memoir and partly storytelling. it's like the other westmore, written at best, a junior high level. there is select i'll ratings that i referred to before where an independent body examines large chunks of text and assigns a reading level to it. the other westmore is about eighth grade level. so when we say the books chosen for common reading are easy books, it's not just opinion. there is pretty hard data to back that up. so we have our mics on now and were ready to go. it's time to ask questions. i'm going to start with one to break the ice on this. your comments about these books
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just that you're unhappy with the choices that your colleagues are making in departments and elsewhere in the university, that could say that you are in favor of censorship. what about that. we need a common body of works that everyone reads this is what i think brings coherence to a culture. it also allows us to let them work themselves out over time. we shouldn't trust our judgments about contemporary works. very often we are wrong. but years later he looks awfully dated. just in that short. of time. we talk about censorship. there is a limited amount of time in the day in the school
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day on any syllabus. you have to make choices. are you going to make the good choices or the bad choices? the cost is very high. college is a very short time in young people's lives. this is is their own chance to read many of the great works of civilization. they're not going to read them when they're out of college. they have a professor there will guide them through. they have other students were reading the same thing. this is an extraordinary opportunity when they ask people ten years after college, they don't i wish i would've went to more parties. they say i wish i would've taken more courses in art history or a little more shakespeare. i realize now college was a unique intellectual growth time. if the faculty can't provide the resources to make that happen, then we need to get other faculty. [applause].
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>> i want to ask you a question. you had some carefully riddled criticism at a bunch of these books. i'm wondering, if you had to choose the one common reading that is going to apply to maybe a whole college for whole bunch of colleges, what would your pic be, and why? >> my pic will be, and it's only going to be for the college where i am on the committee because i do not want to impose myself on anybody else. i'm going to pick persuasion which is a beautiful book, relatively brief book and a book about second chances. that's a lesson we all need. as a college student i would've loved to talk about the fact that we do have second chances in life.
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>> books can be about things that are near at hand are far away. how do you come out on the near versus far for each book? >> that's a very abstract question. >> the thing to comes to mind is that colleges use the word relevant. we need books that are close to what students experience today. they need a book by an author that is of their same race or near to them in age from their same background social logically. that might have merit, but it's also good to get us out of the things that we are ready to help us know things outside of us. getting outside of our current era of biases is a valuable thing. there are things that we think
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are the right way for all time but are really limited to our current age. >> so as far away as robinson crusoe? how far do you want to go? >> yes, i like those those. >> the point about relevance, as a quick one, there are things that are ancient that are relevant in young people's lives. if if anyone knows of a better comparison of peer pressure than augustine's story or the iliad where hector has won some victories and acuities have this left the field. he gets a little full of himself
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and he brings his army outside the walls of troy and they're doing great but then things start to turn. hector realizes, okay, i've made a mistake. they are running back inside the walls but hector feels responsible. he feels stupid and he doesn't want to show any car coward as him. he's standing outside against the wall and his mother and father are saying get inside. it's impenetrable. he's sitting there and they're just standing back and we see this point of life coming toward him. his achilles coming. the great warrior. at that moment, hector's courage , he wills and loses his will. i said earlier when this came up, you take a hundred thousand teenage boys in america today and you tell me, if if you find ten of them who don't know that experience, that guy is coming to get me through high school middle school, the neighborhood they live in or on the football
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field basketball field, that kind of experience is altogether relevant to the 19-year-old kid coming into college. >> i'm going to repeat your question for the sake of cspan. i will take years first. >> i just wanted to follow-up on what mark said it may be challenge the idea of far and near. i think far is near okay. >> so far is near if we look at the question. more of a comment than a question. okay. isn't it part of the larger core
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problem that they can't even decide on classic works for college reading is seems on usual that they would have all of their objections for their one book for summer reading. i don't know if we can solve this problem without solving a more egregious problem of the lack of intellectual courage in saying to kids, you shall read these books. >> i'm not sure i can repeat that verbatim. this represents the application
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of intellectual authorities responsibility on the part of the teachers that were not to solve this problem without addressing that bigger problem. we've lost the core curriculum so we no longer have anything that we can rely on that they've already in common, but here we have this one book, this 11 opportunity. i feel like this is a possibility to bring that back and that's what were trying to do. it's not a core curriculum. it's far from it and it is representative of the larger loss but with this one book, i think it's possible and it's our task to show colleges why there is a need for these kind of books and why they're important. >> i had a question about what you think an ideal makeup of the
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committee is. i'm not sure english faculty only because, but i wonder if it could be something like the faculty the report. >> so what's the ideal committee who selects book, the faculty on campus who read the most. >> i think students said select their own books. laughmac. that's a joke. interestingly, i think, i don't know. it depends what you want the book to do right. >> it's to get them to read. i think the right answers
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probably whoever are members of the national association. i'd like to say one word in defensive english faculty, if i may. i've had some interesting conversations with friends of mine who are in humanities discipline on the left. a number of them report that there is some interest on part of the english fact faculty more so than the history professor. obviously, there are people who
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are not brilliant in the english faculty but there are a fair number who are pretty good. any selection criteria that you're going to use is not going to be perfect but actually having some way in from the english department or the french department or the italian department would not be bad. if i can have one more shout out , they're pretty good people. [inaudible] the question is, how do you enhance that intellect of whole food type intellect which is in as may be appealing but it
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permeates to the environment. >> how do you get a non- processed life out of our blended ingredient approach. actually i think ashley knows a piece about the blended ingredient piece that i want to hold in mine. you were just telling me yesterday about this new form of kindle style reading where they match exactly what the student is reading at any given time. >> yes, there is a new program that you can use for common reading programs to send out digital copies of the book and you can know where the students are, what page page thereon, how fast the reading. you can also know if they're
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trying to game the system by clicking through because they can't possibly be reading that fast. you can know what days of the week they're reading, and whether whether they actually finish the book if they said they did. >> so data mining is getting worse, not better. is there an answer to how to enforce this? what we do to create that richer, more complete mind that we feel would be ideal? >> i think it is up to the faculty to model this for the students. it's up to the colleges to aspire to that and not be content with formulas and like you said pre-processed materials. materials. ready-made materials and answers. it's something that faculty can do. that is what their job is. it's our job to in courage them
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to do that. >> they suggest the problem is or not doing our job. [inaudible] is it a loss caused by the time they reach college that they haven't had a good foundation. certainly, of course, when, when
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we include the home life in that , are they growing up in homes with books, parents read to them, we do know that for many of these kids those first three or four years of reading with parents is also socioeconomic. kindergartens are ready to wait too late for the kids who are two or 3000 words of vocabulary behind the other kids and the gap only widens as schooling goes on. also i would add that the culture has never pressed down on adolescents like it does now. mostly because of all the media and all the digital devices now. young people consume, absorb, are flooded with youth oriented media and entertainment and communication all the time now. it just buries them in their
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leisure lives. this isn't acculturation for them. this is already fully in place by the time they enter college. the colleges are looking at students who have so many things in their lives that have just scripted them and geared them against not just that they don't care, but there actually resistant to a lot of intellectual demands that go into college life. they can get over them with the career and money side. if you want to be an engineer or you want to go into audiology, you have to do this. if you want to become an informed citizen and a discerning consumer with good
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taste, you've got to do these things. you have to absorb these concepts. that argument doesn't go very far. >> what is the feeling that college cannot solve every problem that has been cumulated. that doesn't mean that it can solve nothing and it doesn't mean that changes in what colleges do won't help, a nontrivial number for that means thousands of people or may be millions over the courses of years. it's not always immediate. one of first classes i ever taught, i had an older student. it was a story. it was a cop who got shot in the
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chest and i was recovering from the hospital and he wanted to do something else. he wanted to come back to college to be a high school teacher. he was really paying attention, but his first go round in college had planted some of the seeds, even he hadn't been a perfect college student the first time around but there was the second time around and something the first time around made him want to come back. so, there is no need to be a pollyanna idea but neither should we think that the changes that we can make will have no effect whatsoever. >> to short questions. do you think something that has been made into a film might work and have an actor or director come to campus.
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world war z was assigned. i'm coming into my own and then all turned to ashley on this. there are many, many books on our list that have been made into movies. so many that early on we got to a checkoff column, is there a movie. many of the books already have the movies and some are in the works. moving moviemaking is part of the apparatus. >> the classic books. >> okay persuasion, i don't know if persuasion has been made. >> okay. >> the issue is can we improve the marketing of classic books via other media and is that a good idea?
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>> yes, the thought is that only if the author comes to speak will we have something interesting for students but colleges have gotten really creative. we've had art competitions, open mic night, military, military demonstrations, science experiments, there's one college that has a shakespeare festival every year and a different book by shakespeare. so we have movie night and that's a good idea. one university of wisconsin assigned edgar allan poe and had an impersonator, to campus. so for the dead author, you can always have an impersonator come to campus. >> if the movie exist, though watch the movie and not read the book. [inaudible]
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>> i don't think i can repeat that. >> yes. >> has any thought been given to why there's only one common book and why not a rotation where one year you have something from science department and history and the next year something from art and mathematics in literature. and why not have some sort of testing or assignment for these kids coming from high school, whether the curriculum is good or not but can assess them. >> the three part question are why not more the one book, why not rotation on discipline and the third one, on specific
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assignments. some colleges do assign more than one book. the question of whether they will actually read it magnifies the more reading is done so it's not very common but it does happen and some colleges do test and it seems to work well and there's a question of why more don't do it. the third, rotation by discipline, i've not heard of actually. >> i have not but i think i think it's a great idea. >> ditto. >> have a question. cs lewis, said the reason to read is to expand your mind and
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step out of your time and culture and your age and your race and your gender and imagine what life is like in some other era in some other culture. there's a whole theory of criticism around that. is that kind of rationale ever been used to select literature? that's not racist, it's just an active imagination. has that argument ever been used to select literature and if not, why not? >> has the argument ever been put forward to select books based on the imaginative distance from the here and now, speaking of fantasy literature is maybe the biggest embodiment of that. >> i think that question is related to my near versus far question earlier but i think i will turn to david on that first
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because he is a much stronger fan of the fantastic and i'm much more rooted in the realist. >> i would say in effect, i think that's what they think they're doing now. there are two troubles, one is their sense of what is different is based upon very narrow categories of modern multiculturalism which in effect means somebody from somewhere else in the year 2010 is presumed to be remarkably different from us and there's no sense of how greatly much more different people were four or five years ago from wherever. it's a very narrow sort of diversity that is being chosen. the other thing first science
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fiction, it's actually one of the most common fiction things done, but that's not because it's not because it's new and different. it's because it's not as useful genre that people read. i love science fiction and fantasy, but when it's chosen, it usually because it stretches the students less, not because, not because it stretches them more. >> fiction is very rare. nonfiction is more than 70% of the the books chosen and most of those are memoirs. a lot of the titles are my journey, my struggle, my year and blank in blank. it's very me focused. >> of fairmont seem to get exposed after a year or two. it turned out to be a work of fiction masquerading into a memoir. >> so we've discussed that student engagement is a problem,
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my question is how do we know the problem is engagement. i think the issue is,. [inaudible] faculty are forced to research and go to areas where none have gone before and they're trying to find something new and different than. [inaudible] resulting in scholarship where students and faculty are engaged in their education.
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>> how much of a factor does faculty members in their effort to avoid publishing perish and have allowed the students have allowed students to be null and know of these books? >> i can speak for the humanities and the softer areas of the campus. we have a bargain in place between faculty and students. the bargain is on the faculty side i'm in a show up to class and give you a syllabus, i'm going to give you a decent lecture and presentation and then i'm in a go away. you are going to do what you're
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supposed to do on the syllabus and you'll submit those materials and take those tests and you get a decent grade let's not spend too much time talking in my office, let's not do to much extracurricular contacts, i don't want to sit around and talk with you for 45 minutes about why she's getting up in the middle of the night and washing her hands and washington the halls, let's not get into that. you got the the syllabus? you got the assignment. you know what to do. i'll see you later at the st. exam. that's the bargain. i won't bother you too much and you will not bother me too much and that's how the system keeps
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going. >> is reading books just to slow for students that's why colleges have dumbed down their reading list thus far? >> some times it's something they haven't even tried to know. it's just not their priority. it's not that difficult to read. i don't think the slowness of it is the problem. it's just the sheer lack of interest. but i can see how in much of the high achiever world spending all summer long to read all the games, i'm very productive. doesn't go along with building a
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resume. i can see how what you are saying does sound inefficient in terms of the high achiever performance on so much of their lives. if there high achievement isn't directly oriented around books, 200 years years ago it would be expected of leaders in civilized nations to have all done their reading in plutarch. these are lessons in leadership, good lessons and bad lessons. george washington, he stages kato for his troops to watch for it he thinks this is an important thing. this is what people should know.
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those things don't seem to go with success so much in the contemporary world. then other activities of building up your social media time or networking in certain ways or getting those things and doing things that can go on a resume. >> it seems like we need to change what we value as a society. >> we can take two more questions. >> maybe i'm being too cynical. if the faculty, if it's to resist this, culture and they're trying to create a community by assigning a book. >> a paradoxical question here are books programmed in an
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attempt to create a community by resisting larger principles of community. >> avoiding the classics of her trying to create a community of people. >> this is a reference to the oppositional character and resistance on campus. perhaps students just dislike it for the inheritance of western civilization and they wanted in favor of what's new and breaking on our sure. >> i want to add one more goodwill thought. i'm sorry. the people who serve on these committee are the ones who are dedicated to the college. they may not have made choices that i like, but they put in the time. yes, they have more community than the one who slacked off doing any community service at
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all. >> i don't mean slackers. >> among the professors and the faculty. so you've got at least some bias among the people who are selecting the book and actually care about the college. >> i would ask a question, are they on that committee, they volunteered for it because they want to control what every student has to read and they don't want the wrong book in student hands? >> like plutarch. >> yes. >> i was just going to say, you bring up a good point that contemporary book that are no longer popular, in a few years limit your community to just those readers at that time. if you do read a classic, connects you to the whole of generations who have gone before and will go after you. >> those generations are dead sweetheart.
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>> and the future generations. >> the faculty itself is contradicting themselves. >> well. >> last question here. [inaudible] could the university redefine. [inaudible] [inaudible] >> so there is the possibility
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that we are being too gentle about all of this because it's not a mere accident that there is a political subject to these books and it's the political agenda that is driving the selection of books. the national association of scholars is friendly to that point of view in that we would rather talk less of it in our previous years of presentation and some of the opposites that we been writing about. i tried to bring it in a little bit that there's clearly some elements of goodwill in the selection of books. it's not just all about politics. it is not just an agenda reading 24 hours a day. something else is is going on. one of the popular books this year is outcast united. it's another children's book basically about a soccer team in


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